The Magic Series
"Magic Series" is the name for the rules governing how normal attacks can be chained into each other in UMvC3. It functions similarly to gatlings in Guilty Gear, chain combos in French Bread games, as well as to Magic Series systems in earlier Capcom fighters, such as Darkstalkers (which coined the term).
The most basic rule for Magic Series is that normal attacks can be canceled - on hit or on block - into any normal that is a higher "strength" than the initial attack. So, L attacks can be canceled into M or H attacks, M attacks can be canceled into H attacks, and any normal can be canceled into S attacks. However, you can not perform these cancels backwards, so canceling an H attack into an L attack is usually not possible.
Individual characters have variations on this basic rule that expand or limit their ability to perform Magic Series chains on the ground. These variations are sorted into three basic groups, which have historically been called thus:
1.) The "Zig-Zag" or "Full" Magic Series:
5L > 2L > 5M > 2M > 5H > 2H
2.) The "Stronger" or "Simple" Magic Series:
5L or 2L > 5M or 2M > 5H or 2H
3.) The "Light Start" or "Shortened" Magic Series:
5L or 2L > 5M, 2M, 5H or 2H
Intermediate hits in each series can be skipped. For example, Wolverine (who has the Full Magic Series) can chain 5L > 2M > 2H. After 2H connects, he can not chain to other normals like 5H or 5M. 2H is the final move in his magic series chain, so he has to cancel into S or use a special move/hyper.
Additionally, a Magic Series exists for combos performed in the air, which is fairly similar for every character, and looks like this:
4.) The Air Magic Series:
j.5L -> j.5L -> j.5M -> j.5M -> j.5H -> j.5S
Some normals, usually 5L and 2L normals, have the "rapid fire" property. This means that they can chain into themselves, indefinitely, by repeatedly pressing the button. This is not a universal property of light normals, however.
Note that these rules describe how moves chain together, not necessarily how they combo. For example, Iron Man can chain 5M -> 2H, using the Magic Series, but these two attacks will not combo into each other (2H is too slow). Regardless, normal attacks strung together using Magic Series chains are the foundation of most combos in UMvC3, as well as important tools for offensive pressure.
Jump Cancels and Dash Cancels
Certain normal attacks have the assigned property of "Jump Cancel" this means that, if they connect with the opponent, their recovery can be canceled by performing a jump. Since jumps themselves are very fast and allow you to act almost immediately, you can then follow up the attack you jump-canceled with additional attacks. Every character's 5S attack has the special "Launcher" property, which is similar to the "Jump Cancel" property. Launchers can be jump-canceled on hit, and jump-canceling a launcher this way will always result in a superjump, as well as start an Air Combo (see below).
"Dash Cancel" is a property of certain attacks that functions similarly to the "Jump Cancel" property. If a move which has this property connects with the opponent - on hit or on block - it can be canceled into an (air)dash. Characters that can utilize this property usually have dashes that allow them to act very quickly, similar to jumping, so they can then follow up their dash-canceled attack with another attack, continuing the combo or blockstring.
Air Combo / Aerial Rave
"Air Combo" (called "Aerial Rave" in the JP version of the game) is a special combo mechanic in MvC3. Rather than referring to any combo that happens to take place in the air, it is a specific state that a character can be placed in under certain conditions. The most common way for an Air Combo to start is for any attack with the Launcher property (such as everyone's 5S) to hit, be jump canceled, and followed up with aerial attacks.
There is an in-game indication of an "air combo", including an announcer callout and HUD notification. Confusingly, this does not refer to the Air Combo mechanic referred to here. Instead, this indication occurs any time two aerial attacks are comboed together on an airborne opponent. This indication does not mean that the character is in an Air Combo state, and the state can be achieved without this call being made.
The Air Combo state's main function is to change the properties of the comboing character's j.S attack. A j.S attack on hit will normally behave like a regular jumping normal attack, causing a reasonable amount of hitstun and otherwise doing nothing special. During an Air Combo, j.S attacks behave differently. They now act as "Air Combo Finishers", and will cause the opponent to be spiked down towards the ground, ending with them in a Hard Knockdown state. The knockdown typically lasts long enough for the attacking character to land and possibly even extend the combo with an OTG attack (see below).
Besides becoming usable as Air Combo Finishers, j.S attacks gain the ability to start Team Aerial Combos (see below) during an Air Combo, something that can not otherwise be done.
By combining the Magic Series rules discussed above, jump cancels, and Air Combo properties, it is possible to construct the following basic combo that works with almost every character, and serves as a good starting combo to master before moving on to more advanced mechanics:
If done correctly, your character will chain through all of their crouching normal attacks before canceling into their launcher, pursue the launched opponent into the air with a Superjump Cancel, then perform an Air Combo consisting of two medium hits and a heavy attack before spiking them back towards the ground with j.S. Your character should land on the ground nearby your opponent, who will be knocked on the ground for a brief moment before standing back up.
Soft Knockdowns, Hard Knockdowns, and Spinout
All three of the above terms refer to states that a character can be placed in when hit with certain moves, usually during combos.
- Soft Knockdown: The hit character will float through the air, falling down towards the stage. They are considered to be in hitstun for the duration of the fall, and can not recover until they reach the ground (unless they are hit by another attack first). If a character in this state reaches the ground, they immediately recover with a ground roll, and the combo ends. Sometimes moves which cause a Soft Knockdown do not guarantee an opponent will actually fall all the way to the ground. If a character is high enough in the air, they may recover from hitstun before reaching the ground and thus avoid the knockdown. If an attack forces a character to fall all the way to the ground regardless of hitstun, that is called a "True Soft Knockdown"
- Hard Knockdown: The hit character will behave as if they were in a Soft Knockdown state, falling towards the ground. However, when they reach the ground, they do not recover immediately. Instead, the character will remain knocked down on the ground for a brief period, allowing the combo to be extended using OTG attacks.
- Spinout: Spinout is not mechanically different from other Soft or Hard Knockdowns. A move that causes one of the above types of knockdowns may cause the opponent to spin rapidly through the air as they fall, but this is largely an aesthetic difference. Some spinout moves cause Soft Knockdowns, while others cause Hard Knockdowns, so it is not indicative of anything in particular.
"On the Ground" or "Off the Ground" Attacks, almost always abbreviated as OTG Attacks, are attacks with a specifically-granted property that allows them to connect with opponents that are currently knocked down. In other fighting games, knocking down the opponent often signifies the end of the combo, so being able to use OTG attacks to potentially extend a combo past the initial knockdown is a significant boost to your damage output. This is especially important because every character has access to a Hard Knockdown through the Air Combo mechanic.
In UMvC3, every character has access to at least one OTG Attack. However, not every character's OTG-capable attacks are equally useful. Some characters can OTG a knocked down opponent and then continue the combo themselves, where other characters may be dependent on assists to get any further than the OTG attack itself. There are also OTG-hitting assists, which can be used to pick up a knocked-down opponent while the point character is free to follow with almost any attack.
Consider Wesker, who's 3H "Samurai Edge" gunshot attack hits OTG. Hitstun Deterioration makes it difficult for Wesker to combo after an OTG Gunshot later into a combo. A Wesker player picks Iron Man with his Unibeam assist as the second character on his team, and extends the basic universal combo described earlier in the following way:
Wesker OTGs his opponent after knockdown at the end of his basic combo with 3H, causing the opponent to be lifted off the ground, and calls Iron Man. While Wesker recovers, the Unibeam assist keeps the opponent in hitstun. Then, as Unibeam ends, Wesker is able to attack the opponent, launch them with another 5S, and perform a second air combo.
If trying this combo on your own, experiment with the timing on calling Iron Man until you find one that works, remember that you can call him at any point during the dash or during Wesker's 3H attack. If the opponent air recovers before being hit by Unibeam, you called Iron Man too late. If Wesker doesn't recover in time to follow up on Unibeam, you called Iron Man too early.
Special Cancels and Hyper Cancels
Almost every normal attack in UMvC3 can be freely special-canceled on hit, block or even whiff. Note that each character's 5S attack is technically considered a special move, and thus can not itself be special canceled. Special cancels work very similarly to the chaining of normals used in the Magic Series, and allows you to cancel the recovery of a normal move into the beginning of one of your special moves. You can utilize this to combo into specials, which often have unique and powerful properties, as well as high damage.
Both normal attacks and special moves can be Hyper Canceled, allowing you to combo into highly damaging Hyper Combos at no cost other than the meter cost of the Hyper itself (once again, 5S attacks are the exception, you can't Hyper Cancel them). Using these cancels to add special and hyper attacks to your combos will greatly increase their length and damage. Consider the solo Captain America combo below:
Captain America uses a Special Cancel early in the combo to cancel his 2H attack into 236H Shield Slash, which hits twice and then bounces the opponent back to Cap so that he can continue his grounded combo with 5H > 5S (note how Captain America cannot chain 2H -> 5H normally). Near the end of the combo, Cap uses a Hyper Cancel to combo his 236L Shield Slash - which hits OTG and thus works after the knockdown - into 214XX Hyper Charging Star.
The player in the video rapidly presses attack buttons during the hyper itself. This is because Hyper Charging Star is Mashable (detailed below).
Because of the ubiquity of special- and hyper-cancelable moves in UMvC3, moves that can be canceled these ways are not listed as such in move lists (it would be almost every normal). Instead, if a move can not be canceled in these ways, that exception is included in the move's properties as "No Cancel" ( ).
Many Hyper Combos in UMvC3 have the "mashable" property. This means that rapidly hitting attack buttons during the hyper's active frames will cause the hyper to hit additional times and deal additional damage. The bonus from mashing hypers is not very large, but since it is "free" damage, there is little reason not to attempt to mash. Examples of Mashable Hypers include Sentinel's "Plasma Storm" 236XX and Spider-Man's "Crawler Assault" 623XX. Haggar's Rapid Fire Fist (236XX) Hyper is special in that it gains an additional follow-up attack when mashed, indicated by a glint appearing in Haggar's eye. If an attack is mashable, its minimum (no mashing) and maximum (full mashing) damage are listed in the move properties, in the format (X ~ Y).
- Note: Many Lvl 3 Hypers have an upper mash limit more or less impossible for humans to reach. Examples include Magneto's Gravity Squeeze and Akuma's Tenma Gozanku.
Ground Bounce and Wall Bounce
"Ground Bounce" and "Wall Bounce" are move properties commonly found on special and hyper moves (but sometimes on normal attacks as well) which can be used to extend combos.
If a character is hit by a "Ground Bounce" move, they will be knocked towards the ground, as if they were hit by a move that causes a Hard Knockdown. However, upon reaching the ground, they will not be knocked down. Instead, they will "bounce" off the floor back up in to the air. This allows the combo to be continued with any attack, instead of requiring the attacking player to use an OTG attack.
"Wall Bounce" attacks work similarly. They cause the hit character to fly horizontally towards the edge of the stage. If they reach the corner of the stage, or if they travel as far as the camera zoom will allow, they will "bounce" off the walls of the stage, back in the opposite direction, for a potential follow-up.
Ground Bounce and Wall Bounce are considered resources, you are only allowed one of each per combo (although certain engine quirks can circumvent this limit). If you use a Ground Bounce move after already having used a ground bounce earlier in the same combo, that move will instead cause either a Soft or Hard Knockdown. If you use a Wall Bounce move after having already used a wall bounce earlier in the same combo, the character will fly back toward the wall as usual, but not bounce off it. Instead, they will fall towards the ground, usually ending with a Soft Knockdown.
Some moves cause a "Forced Ground Bounce" or "Forced Wall Bounce". These moves work similarly to regular Ground and Wall bounces, but they circumvent the "one per combo" limit of normal bounce attacks. A forced ground bounce can occur even if another ground bounce has been used earlier in the combo. However, forced bounces still consume the one use per combo if it has not already been used, preventing future bounces in the combo from working. The most common sources of forced bounces are TAC Side and TAC Down attacks, which always cause a Forced Wall Bounce and Forced Ground Bounce, respectively.
The sample combo below shows Frank West (level 1) using a Ground Bounce move in his arsenal to extend a solo combo:
After completing his standard Magic Series combo, Frank uses j.236H, which hits OTG and causes a Ground Bounce, to knock the opponent back up. This gives Frank enough time to connect a 2H, leading to another launcher and eventually another knockdown. Finally, 236S hits OTG, but does not have a Ground Bounce property (Frank has used his anyway), so he uses a Hyper Cancel to combo into 214XX.
Frank's j.2H is a Command Normal that causes a Hard Knockdown on hit, allowing him to use it in place of j.S to end Air Combos.
Crumple and Dizzy
"Crumple" and "Dizzy" are two other properties of certain attacks, although they are much rarer than Ground and Wall Bounces. These properties also only apply if they hit a character that is currently standing (or crouching) on the ground, and do not work versus airborne opponents. Crumple and Dizzy do not have the "once per combo" limit that Ground/Wall bounces have, and can technically be performed an infinite number of times in one combo. That said, landing more than one dizzy in the same combo ranges from "practically impossible" to "literally impossible", even among the characters that have dizzy attacks.
Crumple causes the hit character to slowly sink to their knees and then fall over. During this time, they are in hitstun, leaving them vulnerable to just about any attack. The crumple animation ends with the character on the ground, as if they suffered a knockdown, which they usually can instantly recover from. Any attack on a crumpled opponent will place them in the air just above the ground (effectively, it gives any attack the Strike property).
Dizzy causes the hit character to stand in place with a dazed expression, while cartoonish symbols orbit their head. Like with a crumple, they are in hitstun for the duration of this, but the dizzied player can mash buttons to "escape" dizzy faster. Dizzy is superficially similar to the "stun" mechanic in many other fighting games, such as Street Fighter and Guilty Gear, but UMvC3 does not have a "stun" gauge like those games do. It is not possible to dizzy a character in UMvC3 except by hitting them with a move that is specifically tagged as causing Dizzy. Phoenix Wright has a hidden mechanic where some of his attacks fill up a "stun" meter which causes a Dizzy if a move which fills the meter hits the opponent. However, this mechanic is exclusive to him, and there is no general system for causing dizzy.
The sample combo below shows a very popular setup for Nova/Spencer teams, in which Spencer's "Up Grapple" B assist brings an airborne opponent back to a standing state, allowing them to be crumpled by Nova:
Note how Nova superjump cancels 5S into a grounded 214H, not the air version. Jumps, including superjumps, have a few pre-jump frames where the character is still on the ground, and these frames can be canceled into specials. Inputting the special as 2147H (a "Tiger Knee" motion) allows a character to effectively cancel launchers into either grounded specials or low-to-the-ground air specials.
A "counterhit" is a specific mechanic found in many fighting games where a character is struck during the animation of one of their own attacks. In UMvC3, a character is considered to be counterhit if they are hit at any point during any of their attacks, including the startup, active frames, or recovery. Counterhits in UMvC3 are indicated by a larger, darker, reddish hitspark than the one that usually appears, although it can sometimes be difficult to visually confirm. As a universal rule, a counterhit adds two additional frames of hitstun to the attack, so a counterhit opponent is stuck in hitstun longer and can be comboed more easily by the next attack. Counterhits do not provide any other universal benefits such as extra damage, the way they might in other fighting games.
Certain attacks have additional properties if they hit as a counterhit. For example, Haggar's j.8H "Head Butt" attack causes a Dizzy on counterhit.
Team Aerial Combo (TAC)
Team Aerial Combos (almost always abbreviated by the community to just "TACs", not to be confused with "THCs"). Are a mechanic included in MvC3 to allow beginner players to more easily perform extended Air Combos using any character. However, certain properties of TACs make them useful for intermediate and high-level players as well.
TACs can only be performed during an Air Combo. To perform one, press your jumping S attack during the Air Combo as usual. However, instead of inputting j.5S, hold the stick in any of the cardinal directions to perform one of three possible TAC attacks:
- Upward Team Aerial Combo (j.8S, during an Air Combo): Red flash, knocks the opponent up higher in the air. Gives no hyper meter. 1.5x bonus damage scaling.
- Side Team Aerial Combo (j.4S or j.6S during an Air Combo): Green flash, causes a forced Wall Bounce, Gives 0.5 bars of hyper meter and removes 1 bar of opponent's meter. 1.25x bonus damage scaling.
- Down Team Aerial Combo (j.2S during an Air Combo): Blue flash, causes a forced Ground Bounce, Gives 1 bar of hyper meter. No bonus damage scaling.
When a TAC is performed successfully, there is a brief screen freeze and a recognizable flash and noise. During this moment, the opponent can perform a Team Aerial Counter by inputting a TAC of the same type as the one used against them. Note that this input is, in a vacuum, a guess. The opponent won't know which TAC was used against them until the counter window is over. A successful Team Aerial Counter instantly ends the combo, causing the attacker to receive a small amount of damage and be knocked away.
A successful TAC that is not countered by the opponent will cause all of the effects for the chosen TAC listed above. The point character that landed the TAC will be tagged out, and the character in the 2nd position will come in with an automatic attack. This attack can then be chained into other aerial attacks to continue the Air Combo with the new character.
Landing a TAC temporarily disables Hitstun Deterioration, a mechanic detailed below that serves as a limit on how long combos can be. This mechanic is disabled until the attacking character lands on the ground. Understanding and exploiting this quirk of TACs allows for extended TAC-only combos, and even TAC Infinites. However, despite these combos being potentially extremely powerful, the possibility of being Team Aerial Countered means they carry some risk.
Every attack in UMvC3 has a programmed Hitstun value, which is how long the opponent is unable to act when hit by it. Hitting the opponent with a second attack before the hitstun from the first attack ends is the basis for combos.
UMvC3 includes a mechanic called "Hitstun Deterioration" (sometimes abbreviated HSD), which causes the hitstun of moves in a combo to be reduced the longer that the combo goes on. This means that a sequence of moves which work by themselves may not combo if done in the later parts of a long combo. It is a mechanic intended to prevent easy infinites or unreasonably extended combos while still allowing for the game to have a huge amount of flexibility in its combo system. There are two important details that a player should know about Hitstun Deterioration:
- Hitstun Deterioration is based on the length of the combo in real time, not on the number of hits in the combo or the amount of damage dealt. This means that a combo that does not seem possible can actually be possible if the earlier parts of the combo are done more quickly (such as by chaining normals as soon as possible, or omitting unnecessary attacks). Note that HSD does not increment during certain "cinematic" moments, like those found in certain Hypers.
- Combos on grounded opponents suffer less Hitstun Deterioration than combos on airborne opponents.
HSD, along with Damage Scaling (detailed below) encourage the player to go for resets; intentionally ending a combo early in a way that makes it easy to hit the opponent and start a second combo. This will cause HSD to reset and allow you to perform another full-length combo.
Some moves are programmed to have significant amounts of minimum hitstun. HSD will not cause these moves' hitstun to go below that value, no matter how long the combo lasts. The most common case for this is in Hypers, which are designed to always deal enough hitstun for all of the hits of the Hyper to connect.
Damage Scaling is a mechanic which reduces damage done by each hit in a combo compared to their "base" damage, in order to lower combo damage and prevent extended combos from killing opponents too easily.
In the simplest explanation, damage scaling is calculated using two factors: the "scaling factor" for the type of hit, and the number of previous hits in the current combo. Scaling factor for different types of hits is mostly universal, and the values are listed below:
- Light Normals - 0.75x
- Medium Normals - 0.80x
- Heavy Normals (includes j.S) - 0.85x
- Special Attacks (5S, special moves, snapbacks, TACs, raw tags, assists) - 0.90x
- Hypers - 0.95x
So the simplified damage formula could be written as:
Damage = "base damage" * (scaling factor)^n
Where "n" is the number of previous hits in the combo. So, if a character used a medium attack which normally deals 50,000 as the fifth hit of a combo, the actual damage dealt would be:
Damage = 50000 * (0.8)^4 = 20480
Damage in UMvC3 is always rounded down to the nearest 100, so this hit would deal 20400 damage. Note that it would still build 50000 damage worth of Meter.
There are a few other notable rules that govern damage scaling, detailed briefly below:
- Every character has "minimum scaling" values for their attacks. This works similarly to the minimum hitstun value that many attacks have, but is applied to every attack of that character. If the calculated damage scaling is lower than the character's minimum scaling for that type of move, minimum scaling will be used instead.
- Activating X-Factor raises minimum damage scaling for most moves. X-Factor does not affect how damage scaling is calculated before reaching this new minimum (although the attacks will hit harder due to the damage boost).
- TACs apply a "bonus" to scaling, increasing damage rather than decreasing it, for the remainder of the combo. These values differ based on TAC direction and are included in the Team Aerial Combo section.
- Throws (both normal throws and command grabs) apply a significant amount of initial damage scaling to any combo that follows up the throw. The scaling applied is 0.5x for normal throws and 0.7x for command grabs(except Hyper command throws). This scaling only applies to the character that performed the throw, which can be exploited by tagging in a different character. See also: Hard Tag Scaling Reset . In addition, the damage from Hypers is unaffected by this penalty.
- Some moves(particularly Hypers) have non-standard scaling factors.
- Level 3 Hypers and Counter supers are always unscaled.
Many capture/hit-grab moves behave similar to command throws, rendering both the thrower and throwee invincible during the animation. These moves have a few unique rules that dictate how their damage gets scaled:
1: They apply the same penalty to any followup combo as command throws(0.7x). If combo'ing into such moves after a normal throw, the normal throw penalty(0.5x) will be overwritten.
2: All of the move's hits except the first are typically themselves immune to the grab penalty.
3: All of the move's hits except the first typically have 1.43x higher minimum scaling than normal.
4: The meter gain on all of the move's hits except the first typically gets scaled along with the damage.
5: Activating X-Factor will not improve the move's minimum scaling. Rather, the minimum scaling on such moves increases when the opponent is in X-Factor(This is likely a glitch).
The rules above are not universal; there is significant variance between hit-grabs on whether or not rules #1-4 apply. However, rule#5 applies to almost all of them(Rocket Raccoon's Grab Bag is the exception). If rule#3 applies, the bonus will still get added on top of X-Factor(meaning you will get 50% minimum scaling when the opponent is in X-Factor).
Projectile Priority and Durability
Projectiles in UMvC3 can "clash" if they touch each other, causing one or both of them to be weakened or outright deleted. Every projectile in the game has two properties, referred to as "Priority" and "Durability", which govern how they interact with each other.
Most projectiles originating from command normals or special moves are "low" priority. Projectiles originating from hyper combos are "high" priority. Although uncommon, there are also a handful of projectiles that are tagged as "medium" priority. If a higher-priority projectile collides with a lower-priority one, the lower-priority projectiles will be erased, with the higher-priority projectile being unaffected. A high-priority projectile can pass through an infinite number of lower-priority projectiles and still hit an opponent for full damage afterwards.
Durability is used when two projectiles of equal priority collide. Clashing projectiles of equal priority will drain durability from each other at a 1:1 rate until one or both projectiles run out of durability. If two projectiles have equal durability, they will exhaust each other and both disappear. If one projectile has more durability, it will still exist after the opposing projectile loses all of its durability and disappears. Then, it will continue as usual, but with only its remaining durability - making it easier to be destroyed by other projectiles.
Many projectiles is UMvC3 are "beams", which exist along their full length for a duration instead of traveling across the screen. A beam's durability is spread out over a set amount of frames, instead of being a single constant value. Thus, if a projectile collides with a beam of the same priority, the beam's durability will be drained to clash with the projectile.
Additionally, there are a few moves, such as Spider-Man's Web Glide that are "Minimum" Priority, meaning they will lose outright to any Low or higher priority projectile.
Certain moves such as Dormammu's M and H buttons or Vergil's 5H can nullify projectiles on contact. These moves have a set "Nullification Durability" similar to the Projectile Durability of all projectiles. The rules for how moves with Projectile Nullification and the Projectiles themselves interact are as follows:
- If the Nullification Durability is greater than the Projectile Durability, the Projectile is destroyed and the hitbox of the Nullifying move remains active.
- If the Nullification Durability is equal to the Projectile Durability, the Projectile is destroyed and the hitbox of the Nullifying move is also deactivated.
- If the Nullification Durability is less than the Projectile Durability, the Projectile remains active and the hitbox of the Nullifying move is deactivated.
Weight, Minimum Launch Height, and Speed Received
These are three of the primary variables associated with every character that affects how they act when in combos.
- Higher values lowers your vertical knockback, therefore characters with low weight have higher pop up when air juggled.
- Minimum Launch Height
- Defines the lowest possible altitude a character can be immediately after a sweep/launch; very high values can cause a character to teleport upward on sweep; so characters with higher values juggle a bit higher than others.
- Speed Received
- alters all enemy-initiated movement on a character, how far they are launched in juggles and pushed back on grounded hits.